Monstrous.com begins its account of the Epworth Poltergeist Case with the words “The first officially-recorded poltergeist activity occurred in December 1716 at the Parsonage in the small town of Epworth, Lincolnshire in England.” They’re wrong, of course. That isn’t the first officially recorded poltergeist at all.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) the father of the Protestant Reformation wrote
“It is not a unique, unheard-of thing for the Devil to thump about and haunt houses. In our monastery in Wittenberg I heard him distinctly. For when I began to lecture on the Book of Psalms and I was sitting in the refectory after we had sung matins, studying and writing my notes, the Devil came and thudded three times in the storage chamber [the area behind the stove] as if dragging a bushel away. Finally, as it did not want to stop, I collected my books and went to bed. I still regret to this hour that I did not sit him out, to discover what else the Devil wanted to do. I also heard him once over my chamber in the monastery.”
In fact, he is the first writer to actually USE the word: “If you should have a poltergeist and tapping spirit in your house, do not go and discuss it here and there, but know that it is not a good spirit which has not come from God. Cross yourself quietly and trust in your faith. (“Sermon for the Festival of the Epiphany,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 52 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974], pp. 178-79)
So the fact that John Wesley’s (founder of the Methodist Church) boyhood home at Epworth in Lincolnshire should be the scene of poltergeist activity isn’t as unusual as one might think.
But…in the Wesley Household…something is SEEN.
Here is part of the Reverend Samuel Wesley’s account: “After nine, Robert Brown, sitting alone by the fire in the back kitchen, saw something come out of the copper-hole like a rabbit, but less, and turned round five times very swiftly. Its ears lay flat upon its neck, and its little scut stood straight up. He ran after it with the tongs in his hands, but when he could find nothing he was frighted, and went to the maid in the parlour.”
“Mrs. Wesley thought she saw something run from under the bed, and thought it most like a badger, but she could not well say of what shape; and the man saw something like a white rabbit, which came from behind the oven, with its ears flat upon the neck, and its little scut standing straight up.”
THE BELL WITCH:
“The family had all retired early, and I had just fallen into a sweet doze, when I felt my hair beginning to twist, and then a sudden jerk, which raised me. It felt like the top of my head had been taken off. Immediately Joel yelled out in great fright, and next Elizabeth was screaming in her room, and ever after that something was continually pulling at her hair after she retired to bed. This transaction frightened us so badly that father and mother remained up nearly all night. After this, the main feature in the phenomenon was that of pulling the cover off the beds as fast as we could replace it, also continuing other demonstrations. Failing in all efforts to discover the source of the annoyance, and becoming convinced that it was something out of the natural course of events, continually on the increase in force, father finally determined to solicit the cooperation of Mr. James Johnson, who was his nearest neighbor and most intimate friend, in trying to detect the mystery, which had been kept a secret within the family up to this time. So Mr. Johnson and wife, at father’s request, came over to spend a night in the investigation. At the usual hour for retiring, Mr. Johnson, who was a very devout Christian, led in family worship, as was his custom, reading a chapter in the Bible, singing and praying. He prayed fervently, and very earnestly for our deliverance from the frightful disturbance, or that its origin, cause and purpose might be revealed. Soon after we had all retired, the disturbance commenced as usual; gnawing, scratching, knocking on the wall, overturning chairs, pulling the cover off of beds, etc., every act being exhibited as if on purpose to show Mr. Johnson what could he done, appearing in his room, as in other rooms, and so soon as a light would appear, the noise would cease, and the trouble begin in another room. Mr. Johnson listened attentively to all of the sounds and capers, and that which appeared like some one sucking air through the teeth, and smacking of lips, indicated to him that some intelligent agency gave force to the movements, and he determined to try speaking to it, which he did, inquiring, "In the name of the Lord, what or who are you? What do you want and why are you here?" This appeared to silence the noise for considerable time, but it finally commenced again with increased vigor, pulling the cover from the beds in spite of all resistance, repeating other demonstrations, going from one room to another, becoming fearful. The persecutions of Elizabeth were increased to an extent that excited serious apprehensions. Her cheeks were frequently crimsoned as by a hard blow from an open hand, and her hair pulled until she would scream with pain. Mr. Johnson said the phenomenon was beyond his comprehension; it was evidently preternatural or supernatural, of an intelligent character. He arrived at this conclusion from the fact that it ceased action when spoken to, and certainly understood language. He advised father to invite other friends into the investigation, and try all means for detecting the mystery, to which he consented, and from this time on, it became public. All of our neighbors were invited and committees formed, experiments tried, and a close watch kept, in and out, every night, but all of their wits were stifled, the demon and kind to her in this trying ordeal. It was suggested that sister should spend the nights with some one of the neighbors to get rid of the trouble, and all were very kind to invite her. In fact our neighbors were all touched with generous sympathy and were unremitting in their efforts to alleviate our distress, for it had become a calamity, and they came every night to sit and watch with us. The suggestion of sending Elizabeth from home was acted upon. She went to different places, James Johnson’s, John Johnson’s, Jesse Bell’s, and Bennett Porter’s, but it made no difference, the trouble followed her with the same severity, disturbing the family where she went as it did at home, nor were we in anywise relieved. This gave rise to a suspicion in the minds of some persons that the mystery was some device or stratagem originated by sister, from the fact that it appeared wherever she went, and this clue was followed to a logical demonstration of the phenomena was gradually developed, proving to be an intelligent character. When asked a question in a way, that it could be answered by numbers, for instance, "How many persons present? How many horses in the barn? How many miles to a certain place?" The answers would come in raps, like a man knocking on the wall, the bureau or the bedpost with his fist, or by so many scratches on the wall like the noise of a nail or claws, and the answers were invariably correct. During the time, it was not uncommon to see lights like a candle or lamp flitting across the yard and through the field, and frequently when father, the boys and hands were coming in late from work, chunks of wood and stones would fall along the way as if tossed by some one, but we could never discover from whence, or what direction they came. In addition to the demonstrations already described, it took to slapping people on the face, especially those who resisted the action of pulling the cover from the bed, and those who came as detectives to expose the trick. The blows were heard distinctly, like the open palm of a heavy hand, while the sting was keenly felt, and it did not neglect to pull my hair, and make Joel squall as often.” —Richard Williams Bell OUR FAMILY TROUBLE.
The Bell Witch is throwing rocks.
Throwing Rocks…Throwing Rocks…Throwing rocks..
What follows I take directly from
Lithobolia, or the Stone-Throwing Devil by Richard Chamberlain, the secretary of the colony of New Hampshire, and agent of the Mason family published in 1698
“Some time ago being in America (in His then Majesty’s Service) I was lodg’d in the said George Walton’s House, a Planter there, and on a Sunday Night, about Ten a Clock, many Stones were heard by my self, and the rest of the Family, to be thrown, and (with Noise) hit against the top and all sides of the House, after he the said Walton had been at his Fence-Gate, which was between him and his Neighbour one John Amazeen an Italian, to view it; for it was again, as formerly it had been (the manner how being unknown) wrung off the Hinges, and cast upon the Ground; and in his being there, and return home with several Persons of (and frequenting) his family and House, about a flight shot distant from the Gate, they were all assaulted with a peal of Stones, (taken, we conceive, from the Rocks hard by the House) and this by unseen Hands or Agents. For by this time I was come down to them, having risen out of my Bed at this strange Alarm of all that were in the House, and do know that they all look’d out as narrowly as I did, or any Person could (it being a bright Moon-light Night), but cou’d make no Discovery. Thereupon, and because there came many Stones, and those pretty great ones, some as big as my Fist, into the Entry or Porch of the House, we withdrew into the next Room to the Porch, no Person having receiv’d any Hurt, (praised be Almighty Providence, for certainly the infernal Agent, constant Enemy to Mankind, had he not been over-ruled, intended no less than Death or Maim) save only that two Youths were lightly hit, one on the Leg, the other on the Thigh, notwithstanding the Stones came so thick, and so forcibly against the sides of so narrow a Room. Whilst we stood amazed at this Accident, one of the Maidens imagined she saw them come from the Hall, next to that we were in, where searching, (and in the Cellar, down out of the Hall,) and finding no Body, another and my self observed two little Stones in a short space successively to fall on the Floor, coming as from the Ceiling close by us, and we concluded it must necessarily be done by means extraordinary and praeternatural. Coming again into the Room where we first were (next the Porch), we had many of these lapidary Salutations, but unfriendly ones; for, shutting the door, it was no small Surprise to me to have a good big Stone come with great force and noise (just by my Head) against the Door on the inside; and then shutting the other Door, next the Hall, to have the like Accident; so going out again, upon a necessary Occasion, to have another very near my Body, clattering against the Board-wall of the House; but it was a much greater, to be so near the danger of having my Head broke with a Mall, or great Hammer brushing along the top or roof of the Room from the other end, as I was walking in it, and lighting down by me; but it fell so, that my Landlord had the greatest damage, his Windows (especially those of the first mention’d Room) being with many Stones miserably and strangely batter’d, most of the Stones giving the Blow on the inside, and forcing the Bars, Lead, and hasps of the Casements outwards, and yet falling back (sometimes a Yard or two) into the Room; only one little Stone we took out of the glass of the Window, where it lodg’d its self in the breaking it, in a Hole exactly fit for the Stone. The Pewter and Brass were frequently pelted, and sometimes thrown down upon the Ground; for the Evil Spirit seemed then to affect variety of Mischief, and diverted himself at this end after he had done so much Execution at the other. So were two Candlesticks, after many hittings, at last struck off the Table where they stood, and likewise a large Pewter Pot, with the force of these Stones. Some of them were taken up hot, and (it seems) immediately coming out of the Fire; and some (which is not unremarkable) having been laid by me upon the Table along by couples, and numbred, were found missing; that is, two of them, as we return’d immediately to the Table, having turn’d our backs only to visit and view some new Stone-charge or Window-breach; and this Experiment was four or five times repeated, and I still found one or two missing of the Number, which we all mark’d, when I did but just remove the Light from off the Table, and step to the Door, and back again.
After this had continued in all the parts and sides of the first Room (and down the Chimney) for above four hours, I, weary of the Noise, and sleepy, went to Bed, and was no sooner fallen asleep, but was awakened with the unwelcome disturbance of another Battery of a different sort, it issuing with so prodigious a Noise against the thin Board-wall of my Chamber (which was within another) that I could not imagine it less than the fracture and downfall of great part of the Chamber, or at least of the Shelves, Books, Pictures, and other things, placed on that side, and on the Partition-Wall between the Anti-Chamber and the Door of mine. But the Noise immediately bringing up the Company below, they assured me no Mischief of that nature was done, and shewed me the biggest Stone that had as yet been made use of in this unaccountable Accident, weighing eight pound and an half, that had burst open my Chamber Door with a rebound from the Floor, as by the Dent and Bruise in it near the Door I found next Morning, done, probably, to make the greater Noise, and give the more Astonishment, which would sooner be effected by three Motions, and consequently three several Sounds, viz, one on the Ground, the next to and on the Door, and the last from it again to the Floor, then if it had been one single Blow upon the Door only; which (‘tis probable) wou’d have split the Door, which was not permitted, nor so much as a square of the Glass-Window broken or crack’d (at that time) in all the Chamber. Glad thereof, and desiring them to leave me, and the Door shut, as it was before, I endeavoured once more to take my Rest, and was once more prevented by the like passage, with another like offensive Weapon, it being a whole Brick that lay in the anti-Chamber Chimney, and used again to the same malicious purpose as before, and in the same manner too, as by the mark in the Floor, whereon was some of the dust of the Brick, broken a little at the end, apparant next Morning, the Brick it self lying just at the Door. However, after I had lain a while, harkning to their Adventures below, I drop’d asleep again, and receiv’d no further Molestation that Night.
In the Morning (Monday Morning) I was inform’d by several of the Domesticks of more of the same kind of Trouble; among which the most signal was, the Vanishing of the Spit which stood in the Chimney Corner, and the sudden coming of it again down the same Chimney, sticking of it in a Log that lay in the Fireplace or Hearth; and then being by one of the Family set by on the other side of the Chimney, presently cast out of the Window into the Back-side. Also a pressing-Iron lying on the ledge of the Chimney back, was convey’d invisibly into the Yard. I should think it (too) not unworthy the Relation, that, discoursing then with some of the Family, and others, about what had past, I said, I thought it necessary to take and keep the great Stone, as a Proof and Evidence, for they had taken it down from my Chambers; and so I carried it up, laid it on my Table in my Chamber, and lock’d my Door, and going out upon occasions, and soon returning, I was told by my Landlady that it was, a little while after my going forth, removed again, with a Noise, which they all below heard, and was thrown into the anti-Chamber, and there I found it lying in the middle of it; thereupon I the second time carried it up, and laid it on the Table, and had it in my Custody a long time to show, for the Satisfaction of the Curious.
There were many more Stones thrown about in the House that Morning, and more in the Fields that Day, where the Master of the House was, and the Men at Work. Some more Mr. Woodbridge, a Minister, and my self, in the Afternoon did see (but could not any Hand throwing them) lighting near, and jumping and tumbling on the Grass: So did one Mrs. Clark, and her Son, and several others; and some of them felt them too. One Person would not be perswaded but that the Boys at Work might throw them, and strait her little Boy standing by her was struck with a Stone on the Back, which caused him to fall a crying, and her (being convinc’d) to carry him away forth-with.
In the Evening, as soon as I had sup’d in the outer Room before mine, I took a little Musical-Instrument, and began to touch it (the Door indeed was then set open for Air), and a good big Stone came rumbling in, and as it were to lead the Dance, but upon a much different account than in the days of Old, and of old fabulous Inchantments, my Musick being none of the best. The Noise of this brought up the Deputy-President’s Wife, and many others of the Neighbourhood that were below, who wonder’d to see this Stone followed (as it were) by many others, and a Pewter Spoon among the rest, all which fell strangely into the Room in their Presence, and were taken up by the Company. And beside all this, there was seen by two Youths in the Orchard and Fields, as they said, a black Cat, at the time the Stones were toss’d about, and it was shot at, but missed, by its changing Places, and being immediately at some distance, and then out of sight, as they related: Agreeable to which, it may not be improper to insert, what was observed by two Maids, Grand-Children of Mr. Walton, on the Sunday Night, the beginning of this Lithoboly. They did affirm, that as they were standing in the Porch-Chamber Window, they saw, as it were, a Person putting out a Hand out of the Hall Window, as throwing Stones toward the Porch or Entry; and we all know no Person was in the Hall except, at that instant, my self and another, having search’d diligently there, and wondring whence those should come that were about the same time drop’d near us; so far we were from doing it our selves, or seeing any other there to do it.
On Monday Night, about the Hour it first began, there were more Stones thrown in the Kitchin, and down the Chimney, one Captain Barefoot,of the Council for that Province, being present, with others; and also (as I was going up to Bed) in an upper Chamber, and down those Stairs.
Upon Tuesday Night, about Ten, some five or six Stones were severally thrown into the Maid’s Chamber near the Kitchin, and the Glass-Windows broke in three new places, and one of the Maids hit as she lay. At the same time was heard by them, and two young Men in the House, an odd, dismal sort of Whistling, and thereupon the Youths ran out, with intent to take the suppos’d Thrower of Stones, if possible; and on the back-side near the Window they heard the Noise (as they said) of something stepping a little way before them, as it were the trampling of a young Colt, as they fancied, but saw nothing; and going on, could discover nothing but that the Noise of the stepping or trampling was ceas’d, and then gone on a little before.”
As you may have gathered…this stuff has been going on for awhile.
You can read more about the Bell Witch HERE: http://bellwitch02.tripod.com/index.htm
The full text of Lithobolia is to be found over here: http://w3.salemstate.edu/~ebaker/chadweb/lithoweb.htm
The Haunting of John Wesley’s house is best read right over here: http://socyberty.com/paranormal/the-epw ... ltergeist/